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Sunday, November 19, 2006


On eBay

It's been eight years since I signed up with eBay and sold my very first item, a plastic Seinfeld cereal bowl that went for $52. It was immediately addictive, not to mention a great way to make some extra money as I embarked on my new career as an unpaid stay-at-home dad.

I wasn't lacking for things to sell, having been a packrat collector for most of my life. By the time my kids were born I was starting to grow tired of moving boxes of souvenirs and knick-knacks from one place to another. All of that stuff suddenly became unimportant. So, I sorted through my collections of Star Wars, Disney, and Beatles memorabilia and had fun watching bidders fight over them on eBay.

It didn't take long for me to start haunting thrift shops and garage sales, always on the look-out for some rare item like a sixties-era Disneyland map that I paid 35-cents for and then sold for $36. Or the used Sherlock Holmes TV soundtrack CD that I found for $2 and let go for an astounding $151. That's my record for profit percentage.

It was fun to take my son around to these places while he was in a stroller. As soon as he learned to walk, though, he wouldn't stay confined and wanted to explore everything with me. That was a problem because I would breeze through garage sales most of the time. I knew exactly what to look for... the things that were hot on eBay at that moment. My son would scream and cry when I did a quick run-through.

By the time my son was two years old I had pretty much stopped going to garage sales and thrift shops because it was too much work and not much fun for anyone at that point. Luckily by this time the word had spread and family and friends were bringing collectibles to me to sell for them. The next few years most of my eBay sales were for them, and I took a small commission.

The past few years have been slow, and I've taken long breaks from eBay. I just started up again when a friend gave me some DVDs to sell. It had been about six months since my last auction and I worried that maybe eBay had changed, that it wasn't going to give me a good price for these items. But they all finished up at or above my expected price.

So it looks like eBay is still as effective as it was eight years ago. People seem to have a constant hunger for stuff, whether it's new or used. I don't have that craving anymore. My kids have shown me what's really important in life. Oh sure, I still collect a few things, but nothing like when I was younger and it seemed like a sort of sickness. I think my son is developing a healthy outlook on collecting... Just the other day he told me that if he ever gets tired of his Star Wars figures he can sell them on eBay and use the money for something else.

Oh, and he loves this song... Even if he doesn't fully understand the cynicism behind the lyrics.

Listen: Chumbawamba - "On eBay"

There's stuff you find along the way,
And stuff you leave behind.
And it all ends up as stuff that you can buy
On eBay

Buy Chumbawamba CDs at


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's good... "from Babylon back to Babylon on eBay".

But what about Weird Al's "eBay" song? Gotta hear that if you haven't yet.

6:06 AM  
Anonymous brettdl said...

Hmm, I should send you all our stuff.

9:09 AM  
Blogger Phil said...

Brett, I take a 30% commission...

I've had so many people give me stuff to sell for them over the years, but it's always been piddly little items. CDs, books, videos, toys. I wish someone would give me a CAR to sell, or a GOLD COIN. For roughly the same amount of work, I'd much rather have 30% of a car sale than 30% of a paperback book sale.

12:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, 30% commission? That's pretty good.
Only Ebayers and lawyer's I guess can command that.

11:20 PM  
Anonymous brettdl said...

Well, we still have a car in storage in L.A....

7:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lmao! I slip in and out of selling on Ebay, too, but I hadn't heard that song. It's almost as addictive as the selling itself, lol.

2:59 PM  

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